A day on the Great Ocean Road
25/3/14 - 25/3/14
There are several options if you want to see 'The Great Ocean Road', a famous coastal drive in Victoria. Featuring beautiful coastlines and beaches, limestone cliffs, and even farmlands and rainforests. Ideally, renting a car would be the best to see the road and towns, but this isn't always financially feasible, especially travelling alone. The next option is going with a tour company, I chose Go West Tours.
What I didn't realize was the Great Ocean Road was built by returned soldiers in 1919-1932 and dedicated to those killed during World War I, technically the road is the world's largest war memorial. The road is 243 kilometers (151 miles) and travels from Torquay to Allansford which is near Warrnambool.
The 14 hour day tour started at 7:30am when the Go West tour bus showed up at my hostel in Melbourne and picked me up. The tour guide Nicky, immediately hopped out of the bus and introduced herself and once we were settled in on the bus we drove around Melbourne picking up a couple more people before heading out of the city. There were a lot of aspects of the tour that I appreciated, but the first thing I noticed was how the guide kept us informed on what we were doing. As we headed out of Melbourne she told us where we were going next and how long it would take, and talked a bit about the surroundings we were driving by.
Our first stop was Bells Beach, and of course my first photograph is of a colorful bathroom!
Bells Beach is a famous surfing beach, though there was only a couple people out there that morning. Bells Beach has actually been named a surfing recreation reserve and is protected.
We all hopped back on the bus and were offered candy to hold us over while we headed towards the next stop major stop, a morning tea and cake break.
We stopped to see if we could find some wild koalas at one point, though they are wild and hard to predict so unfortunately they were all curled up high in the trees and hard to see. There were some beautiful birds there though too.
Nicky took the opportunity to stop at several lookout points along the road, when they weren't crowded with other buses, and even drive by pictures came out well. While we were driving, Nicky had an ipod playlist with music that coincided with what we were doing. There was surfing music (Beach Boys and others) while we were near Bells Beach, and then driving along songs that had lyrics about winding roads and a beautiful sunny day (luckily it was just that!) which I thought was quite clever and a nice touch.
Lunch was pre-ordered for us from a Thai restaurant which was surprisingly good, and then we had some time to walk around and enjoy the town of Apollo Bay. Nicky would tell us how much time we had before we had to be back to the bus, which was nice to be able to plan. Everyone usually returned right on time and it saved the awkward waving and yelling and herding everyone back to the bus.
After Apollo Bay we stopped at the Great Otway National Park’s cool temperate rainforest and had a half an hour walk through while Nicky told us about the huge towering trees.
Finally we arrived at the 12 Apostles. These were created from limestone and sandstone erosion. They're forever changing and these will one day collapse and new ones will be carved from the shoreline.
From the 12 Apostles we went to the Loch Ard Gorge and the now collapsed London Bridge.
London Bridge used to look like this:
But has since fallen down to this:
After that it was a long drive back to Melbourne. We took the inland road which was quicker but we still didn't get back to the city till after 9. We did stop briefly for dinner if people wanted, and a break for the driver. Though wifi is offered on the bus, it is dependent on cell service and I seemed to always time it wrong cause it never worked for me. At least the bus was nicely air-conditioned (or in our case, heated since it was windy and chilly) and I was glad I'd chosen the tour company with the smallest bus. With only 24 people on board, it gave the opportunity to meet and chat with most of the group throughout the tour, with everyone offering to take each others' pictures for them.